The album opens up with “XIX” (19 for those who aren’t familiar with Roman) and it seems very much like a fresh start. It’s a long drawn out intro, it’s slow, it’s brooding and lyrically you can feel the struggle, you can feel the trepidation surrounding the band and whether they should even be doing this…it’s simple but emotionally perfect and you can see this album isn’t going to pull any punches right away. “Sarcastrophe” follows next, harking back not only to the days of “Disasterpiece” in its play on words, but it’s style generally. There are slight elements of “Iowa” era Slipknot here mixed within the ever progressive heaviness the band dabble in from album to album and Its equally refreshing and reflective.
First single proper; “The Devil In I” pushes things further toward the notion of cleansing and continuation within the band. The video for the track depicting each member destroying their former selves, working behind new masks, new persona’s…bass and drums are filled by newly masked mystery performers, it’s all done very artistically without feeling pompous and really hammers home the message; “We’re back”. Talking of statements, it wouldn’t be a Slipknot album without some fine-tuned brutality…and we get that in abundance within tracks such as “Lech”, “Nomadic” and “Custer”, especially the latter, very reminiscent of the “Vol. 3” era.
There are moments though where front man Corey Taylor showcases his powerful vocal range with his singing, he’s not happy simply pummelling you, with moments during “Killpop” and “Goodbye” proving what a versatile performer Taylor really is, on occasion his voice is simply beautiful. Debut new track “The Negative One” is again an amalgamation of styles spanning the bands career, bridging the gap between past, present and future in terms of where they fit in in today’s scene, before we finish up on “If Rain Is What You Want”, a deeply passionate, morose, almost death ballad of sorts, rounding off what’s quintessentially a brilliant album.
The initial question was, is this new album closure, or the rebirth of one of the biggest bands of the modern era, and to be honest, it’s both. The sentiment and retrospect is there for all to see, the tip of the hat in remembrance to Paul, the acknowledgement of all the success behind them, yet the progression is there too, proving that even with the world falling down around you, there’s always light, and all hope is in fact not gone. This is easily one of the albums of the year, even removing the hype surrounding it, and it’s easily one of the best chapters in the bands career to date. If you haven’t heard it…be prepared for hell… 
iTunes: .5: The Gray Chapter (Special Edition) - Slipknot